Scientists Develop Treatment That Melts Cancer Tumours

Cancer Research Technology (CRT) has launched a spin-out company that will develop a next-generation of High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) surgery to treat – and melt – cancer tumours.

Acublate Limited will use an advanced version of HIFU, a highly precise and non-invasive type of surgery, which uses ultrasound energy to heat and destroy cancer tumours, while leaving the surrounding healthy tissue intact.

The Acublate HIFU device works with immediate effect and has the potential to reduce side effects compared with current alternative treatments.

The treatment, funded by Cancer Research UK, Imperial Innovations and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, will use an advanced proprietary phased-array system, which means it targets multiple points in the tumour at once. It will be steered rapidly in 3D so that it targets and destroys the tumours as quickly as possible.

It is predicted that the device will significantly reduce existing HIFU treatment times and become a more effective and cheaper alternative than what’s already available.

Initially, the Acublate device will treat patients with bowel cancer that has spread to the liver using but the technology has potential to treat a range of different cancers once it’s fully launched.

So far, £145,000 has been raised to develop a clinical prototype, which is expected to be ready within a year. Further funding will be required to run clinical trials within 24 months.

“As the provider of commercialisation services, Imperial Innovations is extremely pleased to see this cutting-edge treatment being developed by a Cancer Research UK spin-out, and, alongside the ICHT and CRT, has backed the idea, supporting the development of the prototype towards clinical trials,” says Tony Hickson from Imperial Innovations.

Dr Keith Blundy, CRT’s CEO, added to this: “We’re delighted to be able to take the research into this exciting technology that Cancer Research UK helped fund onto the next stage. The HIFU technology currently approved for clinical use in the UK specifically targets prostate cancer but we hope the Acublate device will be able to treat most solid tumour types.

“It’s also expected to treat patients more quickly, more effectively and with fewer side effects than the current technology.
“We hope to have the first set of data from clinical trials using the equipment to treat bowel cancer that has spread to the liver, within two years.”

Source : HuffingTonPost

Skin Cancer Study Makes ‘Encouraging’ Gene Discovery

Scientists have said an “encouraging” discovery has been made in the fight against the most dangerous form of skin cancer.  A team from the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research in Glasgow said it has proved that a specific gene, P-Rex1, must be present before malignant melanoma can spread in a patient.

Using a grant from the Association for International Cancer Research (AICR), Professor Owen Sansom and his team at the Beatson Institute conducted a study using mice models which mirror the common human genetics of melanoma and found that if P-Rex1 was absent from the cells, the melanoma tumours were unable to spread.

Further investigation enabled them to decipher the exact mechanism that P-Rex1 uses to spread and which is blocked when the gene is removed. They then confirmed that human melanoma samples, taken from patients’ tumours, contained raised levels of P-Rex1.

Professor Sansom said: “As malignant melanoma is resistant to many forms of chemotherapy, these findings are encouraging.

“Earlier studies using cancer cell lines implicated P-Rex1 in prostate, breast and ovarian cancer but this is the first time it has been shown to be involved in the metastasis of melanoma in mice models as well as being present at high levels in human tumours and cell lines where it drives invasion into surrounding tissue.”

Cases of malignant melanoma are higher amongst younger people, and researchers have said more than two young adults, aged between 15 and 34, are diagnosed with the disease every day in the UK.

Survival rates are amongst the highest for any cancer but it still causes around 46,000 deaths worldwide each year, around 2,560 of those in the UK. Scientists said the high death rate is due to cancer cells breaking away from the original tumour and spreading or “metastasising” to other organs like the brain.

Dr Lara Bennett, scientific communications manager for AICR, said the research can help form the foundations for future treatments.

She said: “Although it is early days and more research is needed, if drugs could be designed to block the effects of P-Rex1, melanoma could be prevented from metastasising. This would ensure it remained on the surface of the skin where it could easily be removed through surgery, leading to higher survival rates.”

Source : HuffingTonPost

Medical Jokes : One patient saved another from a suicide attempt

After hearing that one of the patients in a mental hospital had saved another from a suicide attempt by pulling him out of a
bathtub, the director reviewed the rescuer’s file and called him into his office.

“Mr. James, your records and your heroic behavior indicate that you’re ready to go home. I’m only sorry that the man you saved later killed himself with a rope around the neck.”

“Oh, he didn’t kill himself,” Mr. James replied. “I hung him up to dry.”

Researchers Agree To Temporary Halt For Bird Flu Experiments

Scientists have said that they are voluntarily putting some controversial bird flu research on hold. The move to suspend the work for 60 days comes in response to critics who say their work is dangerous. People rarely get sick with bird flu, caused by the H5N1 virus, and when they do, they’re generally not contagious.

But researchers wanted to know if this potentially deadly virus might evolve and start a dangerous pandemic. So they tweaked its genes and made viruses that spread more easily between lab animals. Critics say that was irresponsible, in part because these now transmissible viruses might escape from the lab.

The scientists who did the work, as well as other flu experts from around the world, have just published a letter on the decision in two major research journals — Science and Nature.

“We recognize that we and the rest of the scientific community need to clearly explain the benefits of this important research and the measures taken to minimize its possible risks,” the researchers write in the letter. “We propose to do so in an international forum in which the scientific community comes together to discuss and debate these issues.”

During the pause, they say they will do no experiments with the lab-altered viruses, and they won’t create any more like them.

Reports on the initial results and the possibility they might be published raised alarms about bioterrorism. “It’s just a bad idea for scientists to turn a lethal virus into a lethal and highly contagious virus,” Dr. Thomas Inglesby, a bioterrorism specialist and director of the Center for Biosecurity of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center told NPR in November. “And it’s a second bad idea for them to publish how they did it so others can copy it.”

In December, a federal advisory panel said key details of the work shouldn’t be published.

Article Source : NPR blogs

10 Most Amazing and Unbelievable Medical Miracles

Whether they are made possible by sheer luck, groundbreaking medical advances or divine intervention, humans have a certain fascination with stories of the miraculous. Medical miracles inspire a mix of awe and hope, as well as a good measure of shock and horror at circumstances other people have endured and survived.

Some stories are shocking, some a gruesome and some are just plain miraculous. Here are just a few of some of the most amazing medical miracles recorded.

1. Surviving A Spike Through the Head


Perhaps one of the most famous medical miracle stories told to students of neurology is that of Phineas Gage.  In 1848, Gage was the foreman of a construction gang preparing the bed of a new railroad line, when an explosion forced a 3 feet 7 inch long rod through his head.  The rod entered through the man’s cheek and exited through the top of his head.

Miraculously, the rod was successfully removed by doctors, and Gage survived.  Unfortunately, he experienced obvious personality changes, and eventually died eleven years later after suffering from increasingly severe seizures.

2. Man Survives Steel Bar Through Chest

Twenty-two-year-old Supratim Dutta defied all odds when he survived being impaled by a 5 foot long, two inch thick iron bar. Dutta was impaled when his driver lost control of the car he was riding in and smashed into a barricade.


Miraculously, the iron bar missed all vital organs, and surgeons were able to remove it. Dutta was released from the hospital just two weeks later and made a full recovery.

3. Implanted Electrodes Wake Man After 6 Years

A serious assault left a man in a near-vegetative state for six years, until a medical team inserted electrodes into his brain with miraculous results.  The man, who had previously been unable to swallow, communicate or make coordinated movements of any kind, was suddenly able to talk, feed himself and interact with his family.  The man experienced almost immediate improvement when the electrodes were stimulated, and now they turn on and off every 12 hours to give him a normal sleep-wake cycle.


The electrodes were used to stimulate the thalamus, an important region deep within the brain. This form of deep brain stimulation has been used to treat Parkinsons disease, but it had never been used before to treat a patient with this type of brain damage.

4. Brain With Leaky Veins Fixed with Superglue

17-month-old Ella-Grace Honeyman was born with a rare malformation of the blood vessels in the brain called Vein of Galen Malformation.  The malformation causes high pressures in the vein of Galen, resulting in aneurysms. In Ella-Grace, news reports state that the high pressure caused blood to leak into her brain and resulted in the formation of a potentially fatal aneurysm.


The condition is so rare, that the toddler had to be taken first to France, and then to the United States for treatment.  She underwent surgery that plugged the tiny holes in her blood vessels with a type of medical superglue. While she will still need more operations in the future, doctors say Ella-Grace will now be able to live a long and healthy life.

5. Four armed and legged Lakshmi survives surgery

Lakshmiwithmom_previewWhen a baby girl was born in rural India with four arms and four legs, she was thought to be a gift from God, and was given the name Lakshmi, after the four-armed Hindu goddess of wealth. Doctors found that Lakshmi actually had a twin, which had failed to fully develop, and had fused to her body.

A team of doctors were assembled, and they performed 27 hour surgery to remove the limbs, kidney and spinal cord from her twin. Then they re-oriented the girl’s genital system and bladder, and closed her pelvis. Lakshmi made a miraculous recovery, and just three months after her operation, she was able to walk with a walker.

6. Man Walks Again After Being Chopped in Half

Peng Shulin’s body was literally cut in half when he was hit by a lorry over a decade ago. It took a team of 20 medical professionals to save Peng’s life, a feat which was a miracle in itself. Unfortunately though, Peng was left bedridden. Then, doctors at the China Rehabilitation Research Center in Beijing came up with a plan to restore Peng’s mobility.


They designed him an eggcup shaped device with two artificial legs attached to it, enabling the determined man to walk again with the aid of a walker.

7. A First-Time Mother at 70

Mother_at_70Rajo Devi and her husband Bala Ram were married for 50 years before Devi gave birth to their first child, at the age of 70. The couple, who had struggled with the social stigma of infertility for decades,  finally conceived using in vitro fertilization and a technique called intra cytoplasmic sperm injection, which makes it easier to fertilize an egg with poor quality sperm.  Dr. Bishnoi from the Hisar Fertility Centre Treated Devi, and states that special care was taken to prevent a multiple pregnancy, which could have had catastrophic results for both Devi and her baby.  Both mom and baby are healthy, and Devi is currently the oldest woman known to have given birth to their first child.

8. Miracle Through a Magnet

A car crash left Josh Villa in a vegetative state for three years, until he was virtually jolted out of his coma using a technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). TMS stimulates the brain using magnetic fields produced by an electromagnetic coil placed on the patient’s scalp.

Previously, doctors have used TMS to treat depression, Parkinsons disease, stroke and migraine. The magnet sends a charge to the portion of the brain that works to signal the rest of the brain to wake up. Villa, who was given these treatments as a last resort, awakened after 15 treatment sessions. Unfortunately, after a total of 30 treatments, the sessions were stopped and Villa regressed. He was given more therapy, but is home now. Although he isn’t back to normal, he is able to communicate and even express emotions.

9. Vision Restored Following A Key in the Eye

Nicholas Holderman was only 17-months-old when he became the victim of a freak accident that nearly robbed him of his sight. Nicholas was playing with his two brothers when he fell and landed on a set of keys. His parents were horrified when they realized that one of the keys had been lodged in his eye.


Nicholas was rushed to the emergency room, and his eye was immediately operated upon. Miraculously, he only spent only 6 days in the hospital, and just three months later, his vision was completely normal!

10. Man Survives Being Stabbed Through Head

knife_in_brainIn 1998, 41-year-old Michael Hill answered the door only to have a 8-inch knife stabbed through his skull and into his brain. Michael then walked down the street with the knife still in is head, until he arrived at a friend’s home. He was taken to the hospital, and the knife was successfully removed. Hill survived, but his memory has been affected, and he suffers from seizures as a result of the horrifying attack.

Source : Family Health Guide

Your Brain On Psilocybin Might Be Less Depressed

Magic mushrooms are said to blow your mind, but the hallucinogenic chemical psilocybin, the active ingredient, actually reins in key parts of the brain, according to two new studies.

The memorably vivid emotional experiences reported by mushroom users may flourish because the parts of the brain suppressed by psilocybin usually keep our world view tidy and rational.

And since the brain area affected by psilocybin can also be out of whack in mental health problems such as depression, the researchers speculate that the drug may turn out to be useful in treating mental illness.

“The brain’s doing a lot to keep our experiences of the world orderly and constrained,” says Robin Carhart-Harris, a post-doc in neuroscience at Imperial College London, and lead author of the studies.

The studies are among the first to use brain imaging to take a peek at the brain on psilocybin.

“Depression can be described as a particularly restrictive state of mind,” Carhart-Harris told Shots. “People are stuck on how terrible they are. This seems to suggest that people can have a lifting of that negative thinking under psychedelics.”

One of the studies asked 10 volunteers to recall particularly happy memories, like getting married or becoming a parent, both with and without psilocybin. The people found the memories much more vivid, visual, and happy while under the influence. That study will be published in the British Journal of Psychiatry on Thursday.

In the second study, 30 volunteers lay in an MRI machine while tripping for science. The brain scans showed less activity in areas of the brain that may act as connectors, or hubs. One of those areas, the posterior cingulate cortex, is thought to figure in consciousness and ego. It’s also hyperactive in people with depression.

The researchers hadn’t expected to find less brain activity with psilocybin. The thought has always been that psychedelic flights of fancy are the result of an overactive brain. The results were published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Serious research into psychedelic drugs was pretty much shut down after the excesses of the trip-happy 1960s. Harvard famously fired Timothy Leary in 1963 for experimenting far too enthusiastically with psilocybin and other mind-altering drugs. Psilocybin remains an illegal drug in the same category as heroin and LSD, which the Justice Department says has “no legitimate medical purpose.”

Still, several recent small studies have found improvements in people with depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder after taking other psychedelics. Another found less anxiety and improved mood in cancer patients who used psilocybin.

Carhart-Harris says he was inspired to experiment with psilocybin by Roland Griffiths, a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Last year Griffiths reported that when he tested high doses of psilocybin in 18 volunteers, 72 percent reported profoundly spiritual experiences, as well as improvements in mood and attitude that lasted more than a year.

But those trips weren’t all good; 39 percent reported extreme anxiety or fear at some point in the five 8-hour sessions. People trained as monitors kept the study participants company in an effort to reduce the impact of those bad experiences.

The next step is to see if psilocybin actually does alleviate symptoms of depression. Carhart-Harris hopes to start a pilot study asking that question by the end of the year.

Article Source : NPR Blogs

Study Clinical Research programs (M.Sc and Ph.D) in TAU

Texila American University (TAU) is located in Guyana, the only English-speaking country in South America. TAU offers Health Science programs with a high level of professionalism, exactness and problem solving skills, which facilitates further education and development of their knowledge throughout their life.

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  •           M.Sc in Clinical Research
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Medical Jokes : Childhood surgeries

Two little kids lined up for surgery are lying in stretchers outside the operating room.

The first kid leans over and asks, “What are you in here for?”
The second kid says, “I’m in here to get my tonsils out and I’m a little nervous.”

The first kid tries to reassure the other and says, “Oh! don’t worry. It’s very simple. I had that done when I was four. They put you to sleep, and when you wake up they give you lots of Jell-O and ice cream.”

The second kid, feeling a little better, then asks, “What are you here for?”
The first kid says, “A circumcision.”

The second kid says, “Whoa! I had that done when I was born. I couldn’t walk for a year!”

Medical Jokes : Getting a Tooth Pulled

A man & wife entered a dentist’s office. The Wife said, “I want a tooth pulled. I don’t want gas or Novocain because I’m in a terrible hurry. Just pull the tooth as quickly as possible.” You’re a brave woman said the dentist. Now, Show me which tooth it is. The wife turns to her husband and says, “Open your mouth and show the dentist which tooth it is, dear.”

Weight-Loss Surgery Can Cut Deaths From Heart Attacks, Strokes

Most patients who undergo bariatric surgery lose weight and experience other health benefits. They have less heart disease, diabetes and cancer than their obese counterparts who don’t have the surgery.

Now, researchers from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden find bariatric surgery also reduces deaths from cardiovascular causes, such as heart attacks and strokes.

In the study, more than 2,000 middle-aged obese people underwent surgery. They were then compared with an equal number of similar people who didn’t have surgery and received healthcare as usual.

The study appears in the latest issue of JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The researchers checked the health and body weight of the participants at 2, 10, 15 and 20 years.

Over the years, patients who had surgery lost and kept off between 16 and 23 percent of their original body weight. Patients who didn’t have surgery stayed about the same weight. Both groups started out with a body mass index measuring over 40, which is considered morbidly obese by U.S. government health standards.

During the follow up, which lasted an average of 14.7 years, the researchers found patients who didn’t have surgery suffered more heart disease and more fatal heart attacks and strokes.

There were 49 cardiovascular deaths among the patients who didn’t have surgery and 28 cardiovascular deaths among patients in the surgery group. Researchers conclude that surgery to reduce stomach size demonstrates many benefits and can, in fact, be lifesaving.

Obesity is one of the leading preventable causes of death worldwide. Studies in Europe and in the U.S. have found obesity associated with increased mortality, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome which is a combination of medical disorders that includes type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high triglycerides.

But bypass surgery carries risks, including infection, hemorrhage and hernia. Gastric bypass also can lead to stomach leakage into the abdomen, bowel obstruction and nutritional deficiencies. And many patients gain back much of the weight they lost, putting them at greater risk, once again, of obesity related health problems.

The risks should give pause, despite the benefits seen in the latest study, one surgeon says. In an accompanying JAMA editorial, Dr. Edward Livingston, at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, writes that “because the expected health benefits do not necessarily exceed the risks of weight-loss operations, obese patients without other weight-related complications generally should not undergo bariatric surgery.”

Livingston calls for the National Institutes of Health to convene another expert panel to rigorously assess the available evidence and provide an update on 20-year-old recommendations for bariatric procedures for the treatment of obesity.

Article Source : NPR blogs